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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Carville in Iberville Parish, Louisiana — The American South (West South Central)
 

Cage Door of Harry T. Chimpanzee

 
 
Cage Door of Harry T. Chimpsnzee Marker image. Click for full size.
September 23, 2016
1. Cage Door of Harry T. Chimpsnzee Marker
Inscription. Harry was a "bull" chimp (alpha male). His importance in Laboratory Research was that his blood was used to make an extract called transfer factor that was given to patients. His "official" designation was a special study case "Harry T. Chimpanzee". He weighed about 160 lbs. with extremely strong upper extremities. In a fit of anger at one point he almost broke out of a cage using nothing but brute strength, the case consisting of aluminum bars.

One Thursday night Harry escaped from his cage on the third floor of the infirmary building. His cage door was padlocked with a four number combination lock. The numbers were faced away from him so he couldn't see them. The lock itself opened to the outside and there was no way that Harry could reach the lock and pull it open. The cage itself was locked and intact. Despite the arrangement, the combination lock was opened, the cage door opened, and Harry set out to explore his environment. There were 3 ways down from the 3rd floor: The elevator, the stairs and the fire escape. Obviously, a newly liberated chimpanzee too the fire escape.

As the story goes, Harry came around to the front of the Infirmary and came into the hallway of the Ladies Infirmary. There he encountered a short Irish nurse who knew him. Harry put his arm around her and the nurse slapped his hand away and said,
Cage Door of Harry T. Chimpsnzee Marker image. Click for full size.
September 23, 2016
2. Cage Door of Harry T. Chimpsnzee Marker
"Get away with you, Harry!"

Seemingly, feeling rejected, Harry then went down the hall to the Ladies Infirmary until he noticed a patient in bed watching TV. Harry watched a lot of television on the 3rd floor so he went into the patient's room, sat down in the chair next to her bed, and began to watch television with her. It turned out that the patient was blind and was not immediately aware that someone was in her room. Actually, the odor from Harry is what called him to her attention, but she was not clear as to what it might be since she had never smelled a chimp before. After she asked for clarification and became somewhat agitated, Harry apparently sensed that he was not welcomed and left the room and went outside the infirmary through the front door. At about this time alarms had been raised and the Director and an armed station resident were alerted.

I was called in New Orleans and immediately made contact with the New Orleans Zoo personnel who agreed to loan me a tranquilizer gun. I was leaving to go to the zoo and make a mad dash to Carville with the tranquilizer gun when the phone rang again and the message came that Harry had made his way to the 2nd floor of the infirmary, was heading for the men's wing and had been killed with a shotgun in the interest of the safety of the patients and station personnel. Under those circumstances I could not disagree that this was the appropriate course of action.

I guess a 160-lb. bull chimpanzee in your room watching television with you would be pretty scary. However, I don't want to remember Harry as dangerous.

Dr. Robert Hastings' musings on Harry T. Chimpanzee
Interviewed July 2006, by E. Schexnyder, Curator


Photo caption
Harry was a much loved research subject who lived on the 3rd floor of the hospital infirmary in the 1970s. Harry was a "bull" chimp (alpha male). His importance in Laboratory Research was that his blood was used to make an extract called transfer factor. Transfer factor was given to patients to increase their immune response to M. leprae, the bacillus that causes Hansen's disease (leprosy).

Dr. Robert Hastings and Harry T. Chimp on the blood separator machine.
 
Location. 30° 11.788′ N, 91° 7.569′ W. Marker is in Carville, Louisiana, in Iberville Parish. Marker is on Point Clair Road (State Highway 141) one mile north of Martin Luther King Parkway (State Highway 75), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is located in front of the Hansen's Disease Museum, on the grounds of the Louisiana National Guard Carville site. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5445 Point Clair Road., Bldg. 12, Carville LA 70721, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The STAR (here, next to this marker); The Daughters of Charity (a few steps from this marker); Triumph At Carville: A Tale of Leprosy in America (a few steps from this marker); Staff Housing, U.S. Public Health Service Hospital, Carville (within shouting distance of this marker); Indian Camp Plantation (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Belle Grove Plantation (approx. 0.8 miles away); A Civil War Soldier (approx. 2.6 miles away); Bayou Goula (approx. 3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Carville.
 
Regarding Cage Door of Harry T. Chimpanzee. Marker is located inside the National Guard Site, but is part of the Museum's self driving tour. No photography is permitted except markers and site cemetery. This is currently an active Military base so check before visiting, and for other regulations which may apply.
 
Categories. Science & Medicine
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 14, 2017. This page originally submitted on June 14, 2017, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 68 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 14, 2017.
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